I was anxious for some time away from the house, just doing anything else. I booked the day-pass to a state park less than two hours away two weeks ahead, so I was relieved that it turned out to be a sunny day. Having never been to this park, I tried to set realistic expectations. If getting out of the house was the goal, then we were already winning.

It turns out water is the main attraction at Dinosaur Valley State Park — that and the dinosaur tracks in the shallow water. My daughter had her shoes off and toes in the water as soon as we reached the edge. Freezing sheets of water, frigid pools and bubbling eddies, these things invite her, drawing her closer with an irresistible pull. She delighted at the tiny fish swimming around her. We’d walk some, wade more, and explore. We found the guide talking about the prominent tracks, describing the altered landscape around us, along with the massive size and scale of the animals that made the prints in soft sand along what was about a 7-foot deep stretch of water.

The tracks look like cartoon drawings or what a child might think a dinosaur print should be, three crisp points with a round scoop like a simple drawing of a tulip. But there they are, as they have been since the day they were made. Our tracks are light, sliding over wet rocks, carefully stepping on pebbles, choosing and testing our footing as we wade through the shallow rushing water to cross from one bank to the other. The water glides by, like time; we are just a small moment to pass over and around as the water continues on.

Writer, researcher, observer